Khabib Nurmagomedov left the world of MMA in awe when a video of him wrestling a bear went viral a few years ago. The Dagestani was nine years old at the time and, according to his father, the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Khabib wrestling with a bear was meant to test his character and not his grappling dexterity.
Of course, 'The Eagle' would go on to become one of the most dominant wrestlers in the history of UFC. The 32-year-old amassed an undefeated record (29-0) before finally hanging up his gloves in October 2020.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's willingness to wrestle bears would not end with his childhood, though. He grappled a brown bear from Dagestan once again - this time, as an adult.
In September 2019, a 30-year-old Nurmagomedov was seen tussling with a chained bear, as the rest of his companions watched him with a bright look on their faces.
During a recent conversation with ESPN, Khabib Nurmagomedov shed some light on his experience of wrestling bears as a child. The Dagestani fighter recalled his concern about the bear trying to bite him, but his father would simply ask Nurmagomedov to bite the bear back.
"You think I would be scared of the bear? No" - Khabib Nurmagomedov
During his interview with Giannis P in 2015, Khabib Nurmagomedov clarified that the bears he used to wrestle were "wrestling bears" who were taught how to wrestle.
'The Eagle' also described his urge to grapple bears and added that he was never afraid to indulge in a grappling exchange with the animals.
"These are wrestling bears. These are like circus bears that are taught to wrestle by their trainers. He took me down twice but I took him down too. Guys my age were afraid to wrestle with the bear, but I told my father that I wanted to fight the bear. I started wrestling when I was five and my father had a gym where he taught wrestling to many guys. I have learned wrestling from my father my whole life. I was a nine-year-old wrestler with my father. You think I would be scared of the bear? No," Khabib Nurmagomedov said.